Jun 4, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; New York Rangers right wing Mats Zuccarello (36) warms up before game one of the 2014 Stanley Cup Final against the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

New York Rangers Give Back - Mats Zuccarello

New York Rangers Give Back is spotlighting Mats Zuccarello and his foundation right on the heels of him agreeing to a one year contract on July 22nd. The New York Rangers, in order to avoid arbitration on the 23rd, offered Zuccarello one-year for 3.5 million. Not a bad deal for this superstar who racked up 59 points in the 2013-14 season. Hopefully the year-long deal was intentional for the purpose of securing him on a longer term next season when the cap space is roomier. I for one am glad to have him on the roster for the upcoming season and excited to share what this kind-hearted player is doing to give back.

Mats Zuccarello created his own charity called The Zuccarello Foundation, he feels it is important to be a role model to children and to the sport of hockey. The intention of the foundation is simply not to hand out money but to provide a way for Norwegian grassroots youth hockey a different kind of support to the areas most in need. Applications are encouraged from anyone involved in youth hockey including coaches, players, parents and even fans and are determined on a case by case basis and awarded monthly. What is being offered isn’t in the form of currency but in getting the supplies needed to play, such as gear and equipment. In providing these costly items they feel it will help cut expenses and make day-to-day life easier for those teams. Eventually as the foundation develops they hope to provide hockey camps in Norway during the summer.

As stated in the website, the main goals of the Zuccarello Foundation is to provide the following:

Jun 3, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; New York Rangers left wing Mats Zuccarello (36) during media day before game one of the 2014 Stanley Cup Final against the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

– Support the “suffering” grassroot and youth hockey teams in Norway

– Grow the game and engage more young players

– Encourage young kids to work hard and fulfill their dreams

Mats Zuccarello is a proud ambassador for Right to Play. The UN recognizes play as a right to every child and encourages it for health and education purposes. The idea behind Right to Play is that sports can be a learning tool that all children should have access to. Having children involved in active play teaches skills, teamwork, leadership and cooperation also bringing  joy and laughter. Simply allowing kids to be kids. Right to Play is currently working in over 20 countries with a majority of that being in Africa. As a result, those areas that have active Right to Play programs in place are seeing positive results including improved attendance in school, a reduction to violence, increased awareness and steps taken to prevent disease. The benefits to working with these children and their communities will sustain them for years to come. With such great results it is easy to see why Zuccarello is proud to be involved in such important change.

Next featured player for New York Ranger Give Back is Henrik Lundqvist.

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